How Production Crews Come To Embrace the W2

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While smaller productions in the past may have paid their production crew as independent contractors and issued a 1099 at the end of the year, more and more producers are getting on the W2 train and paying crew and cast members properly: as employees. Our own Anthony Lopez recently wrote about this very topic on ProductionHub, letting crew members know what to expect when switching from 1099 to W2 payroll. (Hint: there are a lot of good things about it!)

Some of the topics the article covers are:

  • What’s the difference between a W2 and 1099?
  • Why is production making me switch to W2s?
  • How W2 employment is actually good for crew members

Crew members making the switch to being paid as W2 employees instead of 1099 independent contractors will be happy to learn about some of the benefits of W2 employment. The article considers the upside of the production employee categorization, for the crew member. These include:

  • Unemployment benefits. Production crew members paid as employees are able to file for unemployment when the job ends. This is a perk not afforded to independent contractors, who are expected to participate in the profit and loss of their business. Losses include not being able to find work!
  • Workers’ Compensation coverage. In a proper employment scenario, the production company is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover crew employees who sustain injuries on the job that keep them from working. Workers’ comp is often provided by an employer-of-record payroll service hired by production.
  • Overtime and meal penalties. Film set employees who are hourly must be paid proper overtime, as well as meal penalties when breaks are not provided per state and federal law. When the production works with a reputable payroll service, those situations are flagged and required.
  • Social Security and taxes. Film crew workers paid as W2 employees have Social Security contributions withheld from their checks, as well as state and federal income tax and other fringes. While it might seem like less pay up front, it ends up helping the crew member not get caught short at tax time, as well as shoring up their Social Security funds for retirement.

Conclusion: W2 employment for crew members is not only the right thing to do, but actually in the crew’s best interest. See the full article here.

Questions about W2s vs 1099s for production crews?

Anthony Lopez is a senior payroll consultant who specializes in crew hiring best practices. He can be reached at 917 305 8322 or anthonyl@mediaservices.com .

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